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Full text of "My country and my people"

SOCIAL   AND   POLITICAL   LIFE          189
believe that every dog has his day, and "heaven's way always goes round.'3 If a man has ability, steadiness and ambition, he can always rise and climb high. Who can tell? A bean-curd seller's daughter may suddenly catch the eyes of a powerful official or a colonel, or his son may by a strange accident become the doorkeeper of a city magistrate. Or a butcher's son-in-law, who may be a poor middle-aged village schoolmaster, may suddenly pass the official examinations and, as we are told in the novel Julinwaishih, one gentry scholar from the city asks him to come and stay in his mansion, another comes to "exchange certificates" of sworn brotherhood with hims a third rich merchant presents him with rolls of silk and bags of silver, and the city magistrate himself sends him two maid-servants and a cook to relieve his peasant wife of her kitchen labour. The butcher moves into the new mansion in the city, happy of heart, forgetting how he had always bullied his son-in-law, says he has always believed in him, and is now ready to lay down the butcher's knife and be fed by him for life. When this happens,, Ms day has come. We envy him but we do not call it unfair. For we call it fate, or his luck.
Fatalism is not only a Chinese mental habit, it is part of the conscious Confucian tradition. So closely related is this belief in fate connected with the Doctrine of Social Status that we have such current phrases as ukeep your own status and resign yourself to heaven's will/' and "let heaven and fate have their way." Confucius, in relating his own spiritual progress, said that at fifty he "knew heaven's will" At sixty "nothing he heard could disturb him," This doctrine of fatalism is a great source of personal strength and contentment, and accounts for the placidity of Chinese souls. As no one has all the luck all the time, and as good luck cannot apparently come to all, one k willing to submit to this inequality as something perfectly natural. There is always a chance for ambitious and able men to rise through the imperial examinations. And if, through luck or through ability, a man rises from the unprivileged to the privileged class, then it is his turn. Once in the privileged class, he is in love with it; a change of psychology takes place along with the change in elevation. He begins to love social